Many years ago television was considered a luxury and a big expense. As kids in the 50s and 60s, we made our own fun – playing outside when it was warm until we got called home for tea, or reading books and playing with our toys. However, when I was 11, one of my neighbours in our little street bought a television set. By today’s standards, it was a boxy, small screened fuzzy antique, but to us, it was a thing of wonder.
Suddenly all of the kids in the neighbourhood would gather at Wendy’s house to watch television. A small lounge room full of children sitting cross-legged on the floor gazing in rapt silence at the flickering black and white images before us. We deliberately shut our ears to the calls of our mothers shouting to get us home for tea.
Oh, we kids wanted one, but Dad refused. He was always a bit behind the times. However, we girls set up a persistent charm offensive. We wrote notes that said “please buy a TV” or “we need a TV” or even “Karen will wash the dishes without whinging if we get a TV”. Poor Dad. These notes went in his lunch box for work, his socks, his shoes, his slippers, under his pillow and even sitting on his mashed spud at tea time.
That poor man. He gradually succumbed and bought home the offending article and set it up in the front room.
And there it sat in the corner, that one-eyed little demi-god that required our obeisance and undivided attention. Even Dad was sucked in, as was Mum.
Homework was rushed, dinner was rushed, and dishes were rushed as we hurried to sit in a dark room to watch a flickering black-and-white screen.
Up and down to turn the knobs or wiggle the aerial, or hold our breath until the static was sorted and the picture again became clear. Oh, but it was magic.
Gilligan’s Island, Secret Smart, The Avengers, Homicide (not that I was allowed to watch that) and Ironsides. We loved them. Dashing to the loo in the ads, pretending not to hear the phone and getting annoyed if a visitor arrived to interrupt. However, it was only on in the evenings so we still played outside in the daytime.
And so the television set has become a “must have” in our homes. And oh, how it has morphed from that little box on legs with a wonky aerial to the huge flatscreen monsters that dominate our homes nowadays, right down to surround sound. I can still remember Dad bringing in that huge box and unpacking our first TV.